Heading down the path of automation

It’s hard to work in the IT industry and not hear about automation on practically a daily basis. For quite a while I always saw automation as something for large companies that are deploying numerous servers compared to the one off file server or DC that I am used to with the clients I deal with. So happily I went along with the notion that this isn’t for me.

I was wrong.

Wrong

Over the last 12 months or so I have been making a very conscious effort to expand my personal network in the industry primarily for knowledge transfer as well has having people that I can have technical chats with over a (ok a few) beers. Looking back I realise that a lot of the conversations have had the topic of automation and when this happens I would think to myself “Wow I’d like to be able to do that”.

One of my first eye openers to how wrong I was happened during the MVMUG UserCon during which I had the pleasure of talking to Scott Lowe. Scott made a few great points, the biggest one was to use automation tools to ensure consistency, instead of just to do the same thing many times. I’ll be honest I have heard similar things said, but it finally clicked and I started to think of automation differently. Another person that has helped me begin to look at this subject is Andrew Daunce, over a few discussions he has really helped open my eyes to how important this will be to staying relevant.

Like many people I starting my learning of scripting by getting information and seeing what I can do it with, how to parse the information, move it, format, find certain strings. I am now seeing automation in a similar fashion, instead of looking at it as tool to make a number of changes once from the get go, look at is a tool to monitor, and ensure consistency, a read only beginning if you will. Then move on to doing something with the results on the consistency checks

I’m planning to begin this study path in two ways. The first is to use PowerShell DSC to retrieve configurations and test against other systems, moving on to applying, reporting and seeing where that takes me. The second approach is to learn a framework, specifically study and learn as much as I can about the vRealize suite. I want to use this to have a platform to deploy my tasks and further extend what I can do.  As for how, I’ll be leveraging a number of methods to learn, from Hands on Labs, Blogs, Publications, MS Virtual Academy and through my peers.

Throughout my studies I am planning on keeping my blog updated on the content I’m consuming, providing credit to bloggers that I’m learning from and posting how to’s on topics as I do them.

I’m hoping that all this will help put me on a good track for a bit of a focus change with career path as well as allow me to provide content back to the community.

A quick add for choosing DSC over one of the many other automation systems. Simply it fits best into what I do on a day to day basis. My job is heavily Wintel and I am comfortable with PowerShell. I feel by being able to relate to something I do often I will be able to make the new knowledge stick better.